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Back in the 90s I had this friend who was a huge comic book geek who persuaded me to read this series called The Sandman written by some guy called Neil Gaiman. At first I resisted (a comic book? I was in my 30s, not prime demo for comics and anyway…) but eventually I wore down under the pressure of his repeated proselytization. Turns out my friend was right, this wasn’t guys in tights swinging from high rise to high rise or floating in the air touting clever jibes and blasting each other with laser beams. This was something uncomfortably close to art. The expressionistic paintings of Dave McKean were like nothing you’d expect in a pulpy comic and the stories? Just amazing, evocative, lyric, er um dream like(?). I was hooked and still am. I came across a book called Neverwhere not long after and will never look at subways, London, London subways, or quite really anything in the same way again. And the books kept coming: Good Omens (w/ Terry Pratchett), Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, Anansi Boys, The Graveyard Book amongst them and I kept reading, gladly.
You see Gaiman has this voice, charming and humane but creepy, occasionally whimsical but capable also of evoking real dread; and when he gets dark all the effects amplify because you have been charmed and cozened.
That voice is central to his new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. The set-up is fairly straightforward; the narrator returns home to rural Sussex after several decades away. There to eulogize at a funeral he finds himself with a bit a free time so he drives around his old neighborhood. He comes upon a somehow familiar farmhouse. And there he begins to remember. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a book filled with strangeness and charm; its sole flaw by my lights is that it is over far too soon.
— Matt, Los Angeles
This book is magical and mysterious and so beautifully lyrical. It had one of the most peaceful endings I’ve ever read. It calls into question the disparity between memory and reality, and leaves you wondering whether your life is what you remember it being. — Mallory, Vroman's
July 2013 Indie Next List
“Gaiman is a magnificent storyteller, creating scenes so complete that you aren't just reading, but rather inhabiting a universe that's thoroughly believable yet truly otherworldly. The story's terror -- the claustrophobia and vulnerability of childhood, the way a child's wants, needs, and fears go unnoticed by adults, and the horrors that can result -- is perfectly balanced against the consolation of books, the magic of the natural world, and the power of those who do listen, understand, and take action to set the universe to rights at whatever cost to themselves. Painful and wonderful, gorgeous and horrifying, truly fantastic, essential and classic, this is a book to return to again and again.”
— Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI
UK National Book Awards Book of the Year
“Fantasy of the very best.”—Wall Street Journal
A groundbreaking work as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark, The Ocean at the End of the Laneis told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out.
A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse where she once lived, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.
“[Gaiman’s] mind is a dark fathomless ocean, and every time I sink into it, this world fades, replaced by one far more terrible and beautiful in which I will happily drown.” —New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Neil Gaiman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books, including Norse Mythology, Neverwhere, and The Graveyard Book. Among his numerous literary awards are the Newbery and Carnegie medals, and the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, and Will Eisner awards. Originally from England, he now lives in America.
“Remarkable . . . wrenchingly, gorgeously elegiac. . . . [I]n The Ocean at the End of the Lane, [Gaiman] summons up childhood magic and adventure while acknowledging their irrevocable loss, and he stitches the elegiac contradictions together so tightly that you won’t see the seams.” — Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE
“Gaiman has crafted an achingly beautiful memoir of an imagination and a spellbinding story that sets three women at the center of everything. . . .[I]t’s a meditation on memory and mortality, a creative reflection on how the defining moments of childhood can inhabit the worlds we imagine.” — Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI)
“His prose is simple but poetic, his world strange but utterly believable—if he was South American we would call this magic realism rather than fantasy.” — The Times (London) on THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE
“[W]orthy of a sleepless night . . . a fairy tale for adults that explores both innocence lost and the enthusiasm for seeing what’s past one’s proverbial fence . . . Gaiman is a master of creating worlds just a step to the left of our own.” — USA Today on THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE
“Poignant and heartbreaking, eloquent and frightening, impeccably rendered, it’s a fable that reminds us how our lives are shaped by childhood experiences, what we gain from them and the price we pay.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“[A] compelling tale for all ages . . . entirely absorbing and wholly moving.” — New York Daily News on THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE
“[A] story concerning the bewildering gulf between the innocent and the authoritative, the powerless and the powerful, the child and the adult. . . . Ocean is a novel to approach without caution; the author is clearly operating at the height of his career.” — The Atlantic Wire on THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE
“Ocean has that nearly invisible prose that keeps the focus firmly on the storytelling, and not on the writing. . . . This simple exterior hides something much more interesting; in the same way that what looks like a pond can really be an ocean.” — io9
“This slim novel, gorgeously written, keeps its talons in you long after you’ve finished.” — New York Post on THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE
“In Gaiman’s latest romp through otherworldly adventure, a young boy discovers a neighboring family’s supernatural secret. Soon his innocence is tested by ancient, magical forces, and he learns the power of true friendship. The result is a captivating read, equal parts sweet, sad, and spooky.” — Parade on THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE
“’The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ is fun to read, filled with his trademarked blend of sinister whimsy. Gaiman’s writing is like dangerous candy—you’re certain there’s ground glass somewhere, but it just tastes so good!” — Bookish (Houston Chronicle book blog)
“The impotence of childhood is often the first thing sentimental adults forget about it; Gaiman is able to resurrect, with brutal immediacy, the abject misery of being unable to control one’s own life.” — Laura Miller, Salon
“[W]ry and freaky and finally sad. . . . This is how Gaiman works his charms. . . . He crafts his stories with one eye on the old world, on Irish folktales and Robin Hood and Camelot, and the other on particle physics and dark matter.” — Chicago Tribune on THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE
“When I finally closed the last page of this slim volume it was with the realization that I’d just finished one of those uncommon perfect books that come along all too rarely in a reader’s life.” — Charles DeLint, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction on THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE